The dribs and drabs of N!S!A! and other U.S. intelligence apparatus spying news continue to flow from the Edward Snowden FilesTM and elsewhere. Here is a story about how even "incidentally" collected information is stored and searched. Most disturbingly (to me at least, there are many other disturbing details) in that story, is that "The NSA treats all content intercepted incidentally from third parties as permissible to retain, store, search and distribute to its government customers." So, where is the incentive to keep from "incidentally" collecting so much information? Indeed, it seems there are 9 "incidental" monitorings for every intentional one.
But we need to trust them, except later on "For close to a year, NSA and other government officials have appeared to deny, in congressional testimony and public statements, that Snowden had any access to the material. As recently as May, shortly after he retired as NSA director, Gen. Keith Alexander denied that Snowden could have passed FISA content to journalists." But it's okay, because they were really just talking about "raw intelligence," and that journalists and congresspersons didn't understand the unstated and composed-in-hindsight distinction is their own failing.
Also, too "'If I had wanted to pull a copy of a judge’s or a senator’s e-mail, all I had to do was enter that selector into XKEYSCORE,' one of the NSA’s main query systems, [Snowden] said. The NSA has released an e-mail exchange acknowledging that Snowden took the required training classes for access to those systems."
Then there is the intentional spying on people because they are muslims (warning: Glenn Greenwald link! So, a Wired story on the same subject). This including this charming bit "In one 2005 document, intelligence community personnel are instructed how to properly format internal memos to justify FISA surveillance. In the place where the target’s real name would go, the memo offers a fake name as a placeholder: 'Mohammed Raghead.'"
But we had a task force look into all this right? Right, from the Wired story "Richard Clarke, a former counterterrorism official in both the Bush and Clinton administrations who served on a recent task force examining the government’s surveillance, told Greenwald that had he seen the list of targeted Americans months ago, he would have scrutinized the surveillance programs more stringently and demanded the Justice Department provide a counting of how many Americans are targeted." But alas.
There is this story about the German government expelling the CIA station chief from Berlin (and you thought Brazil had it bad), in response to the U.S. recruiting spies from the German intelligence service to spy on Germany (although one wonders why there isn't a standing order from all countries that the CIA station chief be expelled, once known). This all, of course, follows on the U.S. government spying on German Chancellor Merkel's cell phone, which was stopped once it became politically embarrassing.
From the wayback machine, the FBI spying on Nelson Mandela after he was released from prison.
Finally, IIRC, Greenwald (look away!) says the most shocking story is still to come. So, stay tuned, true believers, for the next episode of your friendly neighborhood spyderman.